Summary: Arrogance kills. Should anyone question that statement, they need but study an incident when a king whom God anointed requested consideration from a wealthy farmer. What happened next is a warming against becoming arrogant.
“Abigail came to Nabal, and behold, he was holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. And Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk. So she told him nothing at all until the morning light. In the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, his wife told him these things, and his heart died within him, and he became as a stone. And about ten days later the LORD struck Nabal, and he died.”
Did you ever wonder how a particular woman came to be married to a certain man? It is said that opposites attract, but, sometimes the difference is so great that you wonder how they ever became a couple. That could have been the situation when you saw Nabal and Abigail. Perhaps they were a good-looking couple, but they were certainly different when it came to temperament and to their interactions with the world about them.
In economic terms, Nabal must have looked like a good catch. His wealth was about all that made him attractive. I suggest that it is significant that the writer introduces this man by first taking note of his wealth. The writer introduces the man by observing, “There was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel. The man was very rich; he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats” [1 SAMUEL 25:2]. Only after telling us of his riches does the writer tell us his name. Wealth was how Nabal chose to define his life. His possessions preceded his person; Nabal lived to defend his property. Then, he died following an orgy that would rival the feast of any oriental king intent on boasting of his wealth.
Jesus told a parable concerning how a person can define life by the wealth possessed. Jesus said, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God” [LUKE 12:16-21]. The Master easily could have had this man in view when He told that parable.
INSULTING A FUTURE KING — How did David, a poor shepherd when we first meet him, become an outlaw? He was the champion of Israel, the one who defeated the Philistine champion. He is the one of whom the women of Israel sang:
“Saul has struck down his thousands,
and David his ten thousands.”
This is the son-in-law of the King, the leader of the Jewish forces who delivered the nation in repeated battles. Now, we see him as a bandit, always one step ahead of a vengeful king.
The preceding chapters and those which follow helps us to understand the transformation of the young shepherd into a brigand so notorious that the king leads three thousand chosen warriors, to pursue the younger man through the Judean wilderness [see 1 SAMUEL 24:2; 26:2]. David was appointed by Samuel to be the King of Israel [see 1 SAMUEL 16:1-13]; Samuel took this action at God’s direction. Saul was driven by jealousy to attempt to kill David. It did not matter to the enraged king that David repeatedly bested the enemies of the land and that he was loyal to Saul—Saul would not tolerate the thought that the women of Israel praised David more highly than they praised him [see 1 SAMUEL 18:8, 9]!
When Saul sent assassins to kill David in his bed, Michal, David’s wife and the daughter of the king, warned David of what was taking place. David fled for his life; from that time until the death of Saul at the hands of the Philistines, David was compelled to live as an outlaw. Finally, the danger became so great that David fled to the Philistines [see 1 SAMUEL 27:1-12].
At the time the events described in the text were taking place, David was still running from Saul. The young man had gathered about him a large following of outcasts from Israel. The Bible describes them in the following terms—“everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul” [1 SAMUEL 22:2]. Some would describe them as “losers.” Be careful about tossing out labels in a casual fashion. These men who allied themselves to David would become a kingdom of warriors and winners. When God is pleased to bless a people, they excel at whatever they put their hands to.